With little fanfare the French government has selected Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and New York Fed President William J. McDonough for induction into the Legion of Honor, France's most prestigious individual tribute.

Created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honor recognizes individuals who have, through their professional activities, rendered exceptional service to France or the international community, a French Embassy spokesman in Washington said. The government does not publicly release the citations that specify the reasons for each award.

The order has several levels of merit, the first being chevalier, the second officer, the third commander, and the highest grand croix. Mr. Greenspan was named a commander, and Mr. McDonough an officer. Official induction ceremonies have yet to be scheduled.


Robert Gnaizda rarely pulls his punches. In a letter this month, the policy director of the Greenlining Institute, a San Francisco-based fair-housing policy group, blasted California Banking Commissioner Donald R. Meyer, saying he had taken no action against predatory lenders and has been generally ineffective since taking office in April."We are increasingly concerned that the new commissioner … does not have the full support of either the governor or your office in effectively protecting the needs of California," Mr. Gnaizda wrote to Mr. Meyer's boss, Maria Contreras Sweet, the state's secretary of business, transportation, and housing.

Referring to states where the commissioners have fought against lenders who take advantage of unsophisticated or desperate consumers with high rates, excessive fees, and outright fraud, he said California should be a leader.

"California should be the equal of New York," Mr. Gnaizda wrote. "Today, it is not even the equal of North Carolina or Massachusetts."

Mark T. Harris, the department's under secretary, defended the new banking commissioner. "I think it is unfair to criticize Don Meyer, who has solid credentials and has only been in the position for three months," Mr. Harris said. "We are aware that predatory lending is a problem, and we are looking to take aggressive steps to curb it."


Former Comptroller of the Currency Robert L. Clarke will be honored Sept. 25 when his portrait is unveiled at OCC headquarters. Mr. Clarke, appointed by President Reagan, served as the 26th comptroller from 1985 to 1992.According to Mr. Clarke, who is now a senior partner at Houston law firm Bracewell & Patterson LLP, his official portrait was completed a few years ago but, by the artist's own admission, it was not very good. "Nobody really liked it," Mr. Clarke said.

A new artist was employed for the second portrait, which Mr. Clarke described as "OK."

The new painting was paid for by a group of bankers coordinated in part by the American Bankers Association. Portraits of former comptrollers are displayed in various places in the OCC's halls. "It gives a sense of history all over the building," Mr. Clarke said.


James C. Ballentine has succeeded Judith Knight as the American Bankers Association's community development guru. He will be tracking legislation and regulations related to the Community Reinvestment Act and other capital-access policies.Mr. Ballentine came to ABA from the Small Business Administration, where he managed the minority enterprise developing and government contracting department. Before that, he handled a variety of small business and banking issues as chief of staff to Rep. Albert R. Wynn, D-Md.

Ms. Knight left the ABA this month to explore other opportunities in community and economic development.


The American Financial Services Association promoted Jeffrey A. Tassey to executive vice president of government and legal affairs last week. He had been the division's senior vice president.Thomas Rosenkoetter, a government affairs representative with the group since March 1997, was promoted to vice president of federal government affairs. L. Richard Covert was named vice president of state government affairs, a new position. He will be responsible for coordinating legislative efforts among state associations and member companies as well as managing a database that tracks legislation in the 50 states. Mr. Covert was vice president of government affairs for Associates First Capital Corp. in Dallas.


Robert C. Drozdowski has joined America's Community Bankers in a new position as senior regulatory specialist focusing on issues such as technology, privacy, electronic banking, and digital signatures. The ACB said the job was created to place more emphasis on those issues.Mr. Drozdowski had been at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., where he was a senior program analyst on legislative and regulatory issues in the division of research and statistics.

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